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Chinese Government Wants App Stores To Be Registered, Cites Security Concerns

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In its latest bid to safeguard citizens from malicious stores, the Chinese government has issued a new order that will require the registration of every app store across the country.

The Cyberspace Administration of China stated on Friday, Jan. 13, that all its offices have to ensure that they start these registration processes by Monday, Jan.16.

This decree does not come as a surprise, as the Chinese government has a long history of controlling the internet and other information-based sources.

The New Rule: A Security Measure

The new rule aims to restrict the functioning of apps that are engaged in spreading illegal information, violating user rights, posing a security threat, as well as circulating stolen content such as movies, songs, books, and more.

There are many non-genuine apps that disappear suddenly after collecting information and money from people without offering any service. Now, thanks to this new rule of registering all apps with the government, app developers or providers will need to register if they wish to set up a storefront or make any changes. The rule will act as a safety measure for users, safeguarding them if a fraudulent app suddenly shuts down.

The new rule indicates that Beijing's intention is to solidify "mobile Internet application information service management regulations" issued by the National Internet Information Office on June 28, 2016.

Earlier in January, Apple had to remove the New York app from its store in China following a request from the authorities. It was alleged that the app violated local regulations.

"For some time now the New York Times app has not been permitted to display content to most users in China and we have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations," commented Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman at the time.

However, as reported, he didn't specify which regulations the app violated.

It is common knowledge that Google is not allowed to operate in China, and therefore, many third-party stores came into existence to fill this vacuum. Apps from these stores do not meet the adequate security standards and create problems for Chinese users.

Chinese authorities often ban content that contains sensitive political topics or can be dangerous for national security and social order. However, much of the content that is blocked online is easily available on the apps. Government monitoring is far more difficult on mobile apps than on websites.

The Impact

The official notice suggests that this new rule is aimed at developing the internet application store space. It also noted that some basic norms and management of the application stores are not perfect.

"The Internet application store should be in accordance with the ICP record or permit to apply to the site to the site to submit a paper version of the electronic version of the filing materials and perform application store filing procedures," reads the notice published on the website of Cyberspace Administration.

It is clear that this new rule will have an impact on China's mobile internet, but to what extent is still to be seen. China employs one of the world's most sophisticated systems of internet censorship. The registration ordered on Jan.13 is just a part of this ongoing practice.

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